From Cyber War to Omnicide?

Photograph Source: Sebastian Dooris – CC0 1.0

Will the Justice Department and all those calling for the heads of Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange now demand that the publishers of the hallowed New York Times be punished for their transgression of revealing our government’s cyber warfare against Russia? The front page article is titled “U.S. Buries Digital Land Mines To Menace Russia’s Power Grid.” Many citizens undoubtedly feel that this is just payback for the long decreed turpitude of the Russians for interfering with our “democracy.” Of course there is nothing new about this…the cyber warfare that is. One could make the case that such has been ongoing and deepening since at least World War I and in some fashion probably as soon as electronics like the telegraph and telephone were invented. Modern computer science propels this latest installment of the deadly Great Game to new altitudes, however, and, unlike the case for nukes, there are no international treaties or agreements that bind nations in any regard when it comes to waging what is rapidly evolving into extremely hazardous subterranean warfare that can only increase the probability of far worse.

Consider the scenario wherein an entire major city’s electric grid is brought down for three days or a week or more as the U.S. has undoubtedly caused in Venezuela and may soon in Iran. How many are dying in Caracas owing to a lack of potable water, or food poisoning due to spoilage, or in hospitals without power? Were such happening here in the states the government would surely see this as an act of war and would respond with terrifying violence. How do the Russians view matters? Is an escalation looming? When will such “gaming” result in some extreme catastrophe that does intensify to all-out war?

Are we able to pause and reflect seriously on the dire consequences of our collective behavior – or passivity? The globalized capitalist way of life and the parallel evolution of industrial-technological mass murder among humans has led us to a glaring potential for our species extinction. The evidence surrounds us yet few seem to notice. There are two major likelihoods for this end game. One is global warming and its climate, social and economic upheavals that could easily lead to the other, namely nuclear war. Many, far too many of us, ignore these looming terrors precisely because they are so petrifying. Yet no messiah is waiting in the wings. Collectively we awaken to the conditions our own apathy has nurtured about the matters we refuse to face or climactic events are sure to take their course. The extremities in which we now find ourselves can be traced directly to economic and military policies pursued by Europeans and Americans for the last half millennia but now are being duplicated planet wide. As the most powerful entity ever to bestride the globe U.S. policies have long contributed to the Catch-22s in which we are now ensnared and at present American policies threaten to ensure that the worst will occur.

The late 19th Century constituted the take off point of modern American capitalism and the origins of American economic expansion, militarism and armed conquest, all coated with idealism and dishonesty for the very real suffering imposed upon the newly subject peoples, particularly in the all but hidden Philippine War of 1898-1902 where at least 200,000 civilians died, the greatest number up to the time… but not for long. The Filipinos had been promised full independence once the U.S. defeated Spain. Why did they not realize that assurance? As Senator Albert Beveridge, a close ally of Theodore Roosevelt and the imperialists, bluntly put matters, “The Philippines are ours forever…and just beyond lie China’s illimitable markets…we will not renounce our part in the mission of our race…trustee under God, of the civilization of the world…China is our natural customer…the Philippines give us a base at the door of the East”

In the age of empire politicians did not hide their actual attitudes. Consider the following from Henry Cabot LodgeLodge: “We have a record of conquest, colonization and expansion unequalled by any people in the Nineteenth Century. We are not to be curbed now…” Can language be clearer than that?

Meanwhile, though initially directed at China, Washington proclaimed what events have shown is the bedrock of U.S. foreign policy, namely the “Open Door” which is intended to sound benign but actual practice means untrammeled access to the resources, markets and labor power of effectively the entire world on American terms…and American arms.

Washington and Wall Street subsequently entered into a permanent alliance and co-dependency by indebting numerous Caribbean islands and Central American countries and then sent in the marines to ensure that American corporations and banks would effectively run these tiny and impoverished nations for the profit of growers like the United Fruit Company. Later on throughout the 20th Century and into the present their successors would turn their attention further south to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela et al.

Thus began the rise of America to world power. In 1914 the predominant great powers tore themselves apart in war. Germany appeared about to dominate Europe and Japan was making inroads in Asia. Suddenly the U.S. flexed its muscles and without any danger whatsoever to the “homeland” expedited entry into World War I in order to broker its outcome. The Secretary of the Treasury, William McAdoo, put matters succinctly speaking of government loans to the Triple Entente (Britain, France, and Russia). “To maintain our prosperity we must finance it (the war) otherwise it may stop and that would be disastrous,” said he. At first such Wall Street and government loans served to buttress the borrowers but as German armies took much of Russia’s empire and encamped on French soil it quickly became apparent that these loans could only be repaid if the debtors won. So the U.S. went to war to “make the world safe for democracy,” but really to save the banks, insurance companies and war industries. President Wilson’s brokerage at the Versailles Peace Conference wasn’t so successful however. Russia had gone communist and neither London nor Paris could repay their war loans because the German economy was bankrupt and could not pay the reparations that were levied by the victors. Matters seemed to improve in the next decade until it became apparent that the “roaring twenties” were a gargantuan Ponzi scheme as the major economies collapsed.

The response to depression in Germany enabled a fascist government that quickly re-ordered priorities, developed an autarkic economy that threatened the open door, rebuilt its armed forces and went on the march again this time again threatening to dominate Europe, the largest capitalist market in the world, and exclude the U.S. at least on U.S. terms. As the Assistant Secretary of State, Breckinridge Long, put matters, “If Germany wins this war and subordinates Europe every commercial order will be filled in Berlin And filled under its orders somewhere in Europe rather than the United States.” Meanwhile, taking advantage of Russian and Chinese weakness, Japan began its march toward closing the open door in Asia.

Given all the hoopla around the 75th anniversary of D-Day it is apostasy to emphasize the fact that Germany declared war on the U.S. NOT to invade and occupy us but because President Franklin Roosevelt, in secret defiance of neutrality law, deployed the U.S. Navy on behalf of Britain’s warships and fired upon German submarines. Hitler interpreted this to mean that the U.S government wanted war with Germany which it did though not because the Nazis were a criminal regime that murdered innocent Jews, Roma and others. If that were true we would have to find some exculpatory explanation for the fact that the U.S. government hired Nazi rocket scientists, arms engineers and intelligence operatives after the war to serve the American agenda. In response to his fear of American entry Hitler then worked up the “Axis alliance” with the Japanese and Italians hoping a two ocean war would be seen as too costly in Washington.

Meanwhile other maneuvers were at work by the U.S. in the Pacific toward Nippon, like embargoing the vital substance known as oil, effectively cutting off its industrial and military lifeline. Well before Pearl Harbor the State Department had declared that “The United States would be hurt not only by the loss of the Chinese market but also by the loss of the Japanese market for our goods as Japan would become more and more self-sufficient.” Japan believed correctly that the U.S. wished war. Both Germany and Japan profoundly underestimated the desire and capacity of the U.S. for war. One never hears of the fact that the U.S. had broken Japanese codes and knew that war was imminent and that the target would have to be Pearl Harbor since that was where American naval strength lay at anchor. American military planners had known since the early 20th Century that if war were to come with the Japanese the newly usurped base in Hawaii would be their objective. They planned and trained for it constantly. Roosevelt was masterful in his strategies to make it appear that the conflict was brought about entirely by the machinations of evil doers and that the U.S. would define itself as the “arsenal of democracy.” Just how powerful that armory would become was demonstrated with horrifying effect on August 6, 1945 with civilians dead or horribly injured in the hundreds of thousands. As Secretary of War Henry Stimson put matters during the Potsdam negotiations with Russia, “it seems a terrible thing to gamble with such big stakes without having your master card in your hand…I called it a royal straight flush.” The Secretary of State, James Byrnes, concurred: “The demonstration of the bomb might impress Russia with America’s military strength.” No worry. General Curtis Lemay had designated the Japanese population as “maggots” in a “manure pile.”

In 1945 almost immediately as the war ended key political insiders, military brass among them, began publically to call for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the USSR as if Soviets didn’t read American newspapers. The Soviets tested their first atomic bomb well before the predictions of the newly minted CIA.

The American public is told constantly that their government’s policies have always served to protect them from security threats, to ensure fair play in trade, and to promote democracy. Even to suggest that for more than a century the U.S. has pursued economic exploitation and military dominance across the planet with enormous costs to chosen enemies is equivalent to sedition. No enemy the U.S. has ever faced had the merest capacity to attack the American homeland. Note that the United States has never bombed any nation that could bomb us back. If our government did bomb a nation with comparable strike capacities that would be the End! Both Russia and China possess and deploy nuclear weapons because our government has threatened them with nukes at various times. Nevertheless the U.S keeps pushing the limits. The longstanding goal of American foreign policy, notwithstanding all rhetoric to the contrary, is, in fact, global domination, a fool’s errand that should be of the greatest concern to American citizens.

American citizens remain largely ignorant of their nation’s exploitative actions over its entire history and most importantly the present. Today we live in a bloated, wasteful, poisonous and unequal society. Those who do prosper rely to a great extent on American access, on corporate and financial terms, to other people’s resources, markets and their labor. Such has been the case since 1607. Why else are American forces deployed across the entire planet? But now the American agenda faces serious challenges from the two other major powers at odds with American policies and at present tensions are rising ominously. A new arms race is in progress. The moment surely calls for serious international cooperation – SPECIES-ISM – if you will. Instead rabid nationalism is on the march again when the very survival of our species should be our primary concern and until we take measures to change radically and find the will and way to genuine international cooperation we are fated to suffer incalculable consequences whether from ongoing climate chaos or nuclear war, or most probably a combination of both.

The American global strategy outlined above is very much in force today throughout the planet though we go to lengths to suppress this truth and persuade ourselves that we are the most benevolent society ever. Vietnamese and Iraqis and many others would vehemently dispute this absurd claim! Because of massive official and media distortion of reality the public is then ill informed to understand the defiance Washington and its deputy, NATO, encounter. The result is that it becomes all too easy for citizens to believe that opposition to Washington and NATO’s goals is evidence of the putative adversary’s malevolence that justifies American actions, often with grotesque harm to peoples the measures are claimed to champion. That U.S policies foster resistance and, in the case of ISIS and al Qaeda, actually create threats to internal security, is rarely examined in mainstream outlets. Far too many cling to the myth of American exceptionalism and the concept that the U.S. wishes to lead the world into an order of liberal democracy, free markets, human rights and international cooperation. Such lore is belied at every turn.

Vladimir Putin and Russia have long been the subject of official and public demonization and fear of Russia goes well back, even before the Soviet Revolution of 1918. Teddy Roosevelt had noted his mounting anxiety about Russia’s potential to thwart American expansionism into the “great China market” though he had little idea that China itself would assume the immense and increasing power it wields today. “The enemies we may have to face will come from Asia,” said Teddy and noted that Russia would offer “a very much more serious problem than the Germans.”

Today Russia’s re-annexation of the Crimea is Exhibit A in the catalog of its crimes, followed by Putin’s presumed intervention in the 2016 election. Note that absolutely nothing is said by official Washington or the corporate media of the armed intervention by the U.S. in the Bolshevik Revolution in 1918; nothing said about the intervention in Russia’s 1996 election in favor of Boris Yeltsin; nothing spoken about the five billion dollars of taxpayer money injected into the 2011 election in Ukraine to win support for Poroshenko, the anti-Russian candidate, not to forget the current attempt to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela. The American double standard is unmentionable. Were journalists to draw attention to this, something that would not be allowed in the corporate media in any case, far too much scrutiny and condemnation of U.S. policies would ensue.

The sturm und drang surrounding the release of Wikileaks seemed to expose a deep state apprehension that the documents would disclose deceit on the scale revealed by the Pentagon Papers that could severely obstruct public support for the policies Washington actually pursues as opposed to its claims. Rather than proof that the U.S. is entirely focused upon the defeat of terrorism while seeking to foster a world of liberal internationalism, the cables offer evidence of Washington’s desire effectively to organize planetary politics to fit the conjoined interests of American power brokers in government, finance and industry. As the Pentagon emphasized even before the events of 9/11, the U.S. should seek nothing less than “full spectrum dominance,” phraseology the neo-conservatives and others seized to include economic and financial supremacy as well.[1]

Just as was the case during the Vietnam War the corporate media have sustained a drumbeat of support for the foreign interventions underway. When public opinion turned against the Vietnam debacle the press suddenly became willing to publish the Pentagon Papers. The case is quite the opposite today. Julian Assange, the now imprisoned editor of the on-line website and organization Wikileaks, released more than 250,000 documents in 2010 with the intention to show that similar deceits and mendacities on the part of official Washington were at work in the so-called war on terror and the falsely linked war in Iraq. Yet little of the trove was revealed.

Wikileaks tried to interest the New York Times and Washington Post and other major media to publish what the cables had revealed but in this case obtained few takers, certainly by the measure of the Pentagon Papers.[2] Close examination of the electronic and press media coverage of American goals in the aftermath of the events of 9/11 demonstrates that virtually no dissent from the official narrative was tolerated. An incessant one-dimensional drumbeat convinced most Americans that such terrorism that had brought down the World Trade towers in New York, severely damaged the Pentagon and caused large-scale loss of life was truly global and endangered the overall national security of the United States. Eighteen years later U.S. military forces are still in Iraq and Afghanistan and have intervened in Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen and have been deployed to many other regions globally, in many cases under top secret conditions.

Edward Hunt, a diplomatic historian, has researched the Wikileaks trove deeply and acknowledges the overriding thrust of U.S. policy stating that “American officials worked to keep each region of the world performing a specific function in a globally integrated system.”[3] Diplomats and the media reiterate the mantra of liberal internationalism incessantly. It is the modern day version of America’s historic mission to be the “city on the hill” leading the world’s peoples toward a more humane, independent and self-governing future. That the path has been strewn with corpses, widows and orphans is almost always elided unless it can be shown that others committed the atrocities.

While the carnage in the Middle East continues unabated, and now hawks in the Trump administration desire war with Iran, attention has focused dramatically toward the putative threats posed by Russia and China. According to former Undersecretary of State, R. Nicholas Burns, Europe is the “epicenter of America’s global and strategic thinking,” Thus, The U.S. and Europe together will be “leaders in setting the global and regulatory agenda.” Hunt rightly stresses the adverse consequences of Washington’s transformation of NATO from its original proclaimed aim of collective European defense against an averred Soviet invasion to an instrument to project military power across the globe to achieve American goals. Effectively NATO has become Washington’s deputy. According to one State Department official “There is no ‘in area/out of area.’ Everything is NATO’s area potentially.” Other diplomats advised President Obama that “NATO needs to be able to project more forces to greater distances more rapidly than it can do at present.” In 1995, after the collapse of the USSR, the purpose of NATO seemed no longer essential, especially since Western Europeans could then and now afford their own defenses. Yet, as Senator Richard Lugar put matters when NATO intervened for the first time in that year against a non-member state in the former Yugoslavia, and without permission from the United Nations Security Council, the alliance would “go out of area or out of business.” NATO is indeed a big business, crucial for the arms industries that prop up its power projection capabilities. For these giant corporations and their financiers the threat of war, at least, is paramount.

Washington understands perfectly that for Russia Ukrainian and Georgian membership in NATO is a “red line” not to be crossed. Nevertheless numerous documents show that the U.S. relentlessly pursues NATO enlargement, even now including tiny Montenegro and North Macedonia, knowing that such moves risk war with Russia that unquestionably would result in global catastrophe. Absent public knowledge about these critical issues Russian actions in Ukraine, especially its re-annexation of its former territory in Crimea from 2014 to the present cannot be understood. These are the concerns that centrally frame the increasingly precarious and distressing new Cold War.

In 1949 NATO comprised twelve 12 nations in Western Europe. Today there are 29 including a number on Russia’s very borders. NATO expansion is seen as a betrayal in Moscow fully contradicting avowals of the George H.W. Bush administration that the U.S. would not attempt to expand the armed alliance in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Faced with George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001, with American troops in the Baltics and more NATO missiles in Poland, Russia has begun to retreat from its own affirmations of peaceful cooperation. With the U.S. arguing that Russia is out of compliance the Trump Administration has announced U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Range Forces (INF) agreement. The INF agreement eliminated thousands of nuclear missiles from Europe. Thus Russia is no longer bound by its terms. NATO recently demanded that Russia destroy cruise missiles that were not a part of the INF agreement and U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, declared that “all options are on the table” in retaliation, but at present the U.S. is considering “conventional systems,” and not an immediate nuclear response. The nuclear arms race is heating up again dangerously. Russia can now station as many medium range missiles on its side of the NATO border as it desires, thus frightening hell out of the Western Europeans. Many are apprehensive that the Trump administration will now seek to eliminate restrictions on long-range missiles under the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (START). Ominously we are back to the old days of nuclear brinkmanship. Simultaneously the American position threatens China which will undoubtedly lead Beijing to bolster its own purely defensive nuclear arsenal, which though small is also more than adequate to ignite a global holocaust.

When NATO was established in 1949 the public was told that the Soviet Union posed a dire threat to Western Europe though there was no credible evidence for this claim, nor has any been found in documents since declassified. Officials maintained that American national security required a European alliance. Only the wealth and armed might of the U.S. could defend Europe said the Truman Administration. Secretary of State Dean Acheson assured the public that the alliance would be temporary. Ironically the first commander of NATO, General Dwight Eisenhower, as early as 1946, while serving as chief of staff of the U.S. Army, actually advocated “a close, continuing relationship between the Army and civilian scientists, industries, technologies, and the universities.” He was thus a major contributor to the development he later warned against. By the time he became president in 1953 he became all but captive to the hardline cold warriors. Only as he left office did he seek to warn of the dangers posed by the marriage of the Executive, the Pentagon, and Congress to major corporate weapons manufacturers and their financiers.

All argument against demonizing the USSR as the Cold War began with the claim that it was poised to invade Western Europe, for example by such as former Vice-President Henry Wallace, was suppressed or categorized as playing into the Soviet’s goal of world domination. The USSR was conjured as a universal threat to peace though it had been the Soviet army that had played the major role in the defeat of Nazi Germany and had been desolated by the war, losing up to 30 million people. Its occupation of Eastern Europe was grounded primarily in the necessity to ensure that no western power could again invade Soviet territory, as Germany had twice done in the space of a generation. By 1947 U.S. policies were already taking shape that would foster the permanent warfare state in the form of what would soon be the Department of Defense (to replace the Department of War), the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council. All of this would require more taxation added to increased levies already in place especially in payroll deductions. How would the public be induced to accept this radically new state of affairs? As the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Arthur Vandenburg, expressed matters President Truman would have to “scare hell” out the American public. Soon enough, as Secretary of State Dean Acheson exclaimed, “Thank God, Korea came along.”

It is all but forgotten today that as World War II drew to its close the chief of wartime production of the immense American war machine, Charles Wilson of the General Electric Company, warned of severe economic and unemployment crisis as enormous wartime spending ceased and 16 million veterans returned to the workforce. Many of the mammoth defense and aerospace industries that dominate the industrial base today either came into existence during the war or expanded tremendously. His arguments effectively fostered what amounted to a permanent war economy that, as events demonstrated, would require a permanent enemy or enemies. The propaganda war scare that ensued against the Soviet Union almost immediately after 1945 was claimed to justify the need for an expanded army and the continuation of arms production to the benefit of arms industries and high finance, the owners and managers of which were deeply embedded in government affairs. Wilson’s analysis was not lost on corporate executives or their prime investors and lenders. It was in this context that Lawrence D. Bell, President of Bell Aircraft Corporation, in a 1947 declaration to the U.S. Air Policy Commission, stated that “as soon as there is a war scare, there is a lot of money available.”

In 1945 the U.S. assumed sovereignty over the Western imperial system, facing opposition from the communist world but also rising and different nationalisms on the part of the colonies, many of which succeeded in gaining formal independence though many also remained dependent upon their former masters. In short order new mechanisms of international finance, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, were established. These institutions, with the U.S. holding the prime influence, used their power over loans to newly “independent” nations to keep them in thrall and subject to severe penalties, including economic sanctions should they attempt to organize their own economies and political systems apart from the globalized system envisioned in Washington and Wall Street. In some cases leaders not subservient to the U.S. were overthrown to be replaced by pliant dictators amenable to U.S. corporate desires. Yet dictatorship in the communist world was vilified. What really bothered Washington and Wall Street was the fact that Russia and China and their clients, like others before them had closed the Open Door, or what is today benignly termed globalization, to wide swaths of the planet to American terms of trade and profit.

It is clear that US policies in the Asia-Pacific region are clearly aimed at China and always have been. If Europe is central the Asia-Pacific area is not far behind in Washington’s strategic calculus. One Wikileaks document stresses that “America’s future is intimately tied to the Asia-Pacific, and our economic and strategic interests in the region are among the most important in the world.” Another stipulates that “the United States has been an Asia-Pacific player for two centuries. We will remain so.” Recall that an Asia open to profitable American economic penetration has, for more than a century since the Open Door notes were issued in 1899, been the core basis of American relations toward Asia, and indeed the world. That was one basis for the Boxer Rebellion in the same year when Chinese students rebelled against the presence of foreign businesses and troops. Most importantly the Open Door doctrine was the driving catalyst for war with Japan in 1941. The “facts on the ground” throughout the 1930s showed clearly that Japan was closing the portals. Given the rapidly increasing power and wealth of China today the U.S. intelligence and diplomatic establishments are profoundly apprehensive that Japan might be willing to move toward a modus vivendi with that nation. The Japanese have been told in no uncertain terms that there could be no regional order unapproved by Washington, quoting one State Department official’s deeply ironic remark that there would be no “Asia for the Asians.” Of course that was imperial Japan’s mantra as it carried out its conquest of East Asia from the early 20th Century. Most Americans, and for that matter most Japanese, remain ignorant of the fact that the U.S. stations nuclear weapons in Japan in contravention of Japanese law.[4]

The State Department also declares that the U.S. has long employed a critical “hub and spoke” model to keep the U.S. dominant in Asia. One of the vital spokes, of course, is South Korea where diplomats in Seoul avow that the tiny country is “the most strategic piece of real estate in Northeast Asia.” The American military presence there “serves as a critical anchor for our strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific.”

In the wake of the 2017 crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons few American citizens questioned why the U. S. was in Korea in the first place? The short answer is that this gave American elites a base on the Asian landmass from which to mount the effort to undermine and defeat the Chinese communist regime that came to power in 1949. Having defeated Japan the U.S. then lost China to the Chinese. Of course they were the wrong Chinese from Washington’s perspective. The downfall of the Nationalist Chinese with whom the U.S. had been allied and the ascension of the Communist Chinese was closing the Open Door far more surely than the Japanese challenge. The situation was worse really since the Chinese success had invigorated other communist revolutions as in Vietnam and Korea itself, as well as nationalist uprisings against the European colonial order across Asia and Africa.

The U.S. and USSR engaged in World War II as uneasy informal allies. Yet both had agreed that Korea would be liberated from Japanese rule and allowed to decide its own future. Stalin agreed to the “temporary” division of the tiny peninsula until such time as elections could be mounted. The problem for the U.S. was that the communist movement led by Kim il Sung was greatly supported by a majority of Koreans for the elementary reason that he had led armed resistance to the atrocious occupation of Korea by Japan. American officials understood that to allow nationwide cross border elections was to cede Korea to communism and thus to close the door to U.S. capital penetration further, and to deprive the U.S. of a foothold on the continent. When the U.S. occupied South Korea it allied itself with the same native elites the Japanese had used to rule and the same brutal armed forces in order to manage what, in the words of the commanding general of U.S. forces, was a “Nazi like regime” that ruled repressively in the south until the mid-1960s. When General Douglas MacArthur invaded North Korea in 1950, and later called for the atomic bomb, seeking to crush the communists, he unleashed the Chinese giant, turned the American incursion into a rout, and solidified the ongoing antagonism that today still characterizes Chinese-American relations despite detente of sorts.

Today China has seized tiny islands in the South China Sea and developed naval installations as a clear message that East Asia will be its sphere of influence and not the U.S.’s. Press reports note almost constant pressure from the American navy on these Chinese bases and ships. Other reports note American Army training maneuvers on rocky Japanese islets similar to those occupied by China. The dangers of accident or miscalculation ought to be sobering (as well as in the case of Russia).The so-called “pivot to Asia” enunciated during the Obama Administration has intensified under the current administration with the trade war. Charles W. Freeman, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense who specializes in Chinese affairs, maintains that the U.S. government is trying to “…break apart Sino-American interdependence, weaken China, and prevent it from overtaking us in wealth, competence, and influence… Our sudden hostility to China reflects a consensus – at least within the Washington Beltway – that we need to wrestle China to the ground and pin it there”…

At root, of course, is Washington’s growing concern over China’s increasing technological prowess is about economic competition and the scale of its military power. The Chinese economy is on track to supersede that of the U.S. in the very near future and its military is more than a balance to Washington’s. Thus war between the United States and China-or Russia- is unthinkable…

The acute crisis in 2017 over North Korea’s nuclear weapons hardly went unnoticed in Beijing. Had the worst occurred the probability of drawing in China and/or Russia, both bordering North Korea. was extreme. North Korea was indeed prepared to launch nuclear weapons at South Korea and U.S. bases throughout the region if the Trump administration had attacked. Unlike the U.S., China has a policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons but it could deliver a devastating counterstrike on the US homeland if it believed itself assaulted. Russia, of course, has a massive nuclear force, including land based missiles and submarine launchers. As noted, tensions continue to rise as American and NATO troops maintain military exercises on Russia’s very borders. And matters are scarcely settled in Korea.

Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon papers renown is a self-described “nuclear war planner” who knows as much about U.S. foreign affairs as anyone alive. He has penned an ominous forewarning based on his first-hand knowledge that regrettably has received virtually no attention in the U.S. He states categorically that both the American and Russian nuclear arsenals constitute the “doomsday machines,” and that both sides knew this yet continued to advance the arms race with weapons that if unleashed are certain to result in “omnicide,” whether as a result of the body count in the immediate aftermath of war, or nuclear winter. “How to describe that other than insanity?” challenges Ellsberg, as he recounts the very real plans on either side to unleash the most maleficent armaments ever devised to kill billions and destroy utterly the global environment. Speaking as the insider he was in the Pentagon and Rand Corporation he informs us that it is untrue that the president alone has the authority to launch, and emphatically stresses that the risk of an apocalyptic nuclear terrorist attack on Washington or Moscow “is not negligible.” Nor is the danger of accidental or rogue launch improbable.[5] Meanwhile as we know the U.S. continues to promote economic and, pointedly, military policies that are calculated to promote American dominance, efforts that are certain to be resisted. Both Trump and Putin have expressed desires for renewed détente. Now is the time for massive reduction of nuclear arsenals as a waystation on the road to total disarmament. As Stephen Cohen always insists “Today’s American national security runs through Moscow, period.” Ellsberg ends by quoting Martin Luther King: “There is such a thing as being too late…We still have a choice today: non-violent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.” As I tell my students all the time- as long as nuclear weapons exist, sooner or later – sooner or later – they will be used!


1. United States Department of Defense, Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (JP30), 96. Full Spectrum Dominance is defined as follows:The cumulative effect of dominance in the air, land, maritime, and space domains and information environment, which includes cyberspace that permits the conduct of joint operations without effective opposition or prohibitive interference.

2. In 2010 Wikileaks published video of a deliberate American air assault on Iraqi civilians on the ground. Subsequently, after being rebuffed by the New York Times, Manning turned over what came to be known as the “Afghan War Diaries” to Wikileaks which then published information highly objectionable to the U.S. Department of Defense because it proved the existence of an illegal American assassination team in Afghanistan. According to journalist Elizabeth Vos “This discovery became the cover story for Der Spiegel. It became an article in The Guardian. A story was written for the New York Times by national security correspondent Eric Schmitt, and that story was killed. It did not appear in the New York Times.” Elizabeth Vos, “The Revelations of Wikileaks: No. 2-The Leak That ‘Exposed the True Afghan War’, Consortium News, Volume 25, Number 132, May 12, 2019.

3. Edward Hunt, “The Wikileaks Cables: How the United States Exploits the World, in Detail, from an Internal Perspective, 2001-2010,” Diplomacy and Statecraft, 30:1, 70-98.

4. Daniel Ellsberg, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of A Nuclear War Planner (New York, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017) 80-82, 114-15, 118.

5. Ellsberg, 64. Ellsberg recounts the day in 1964 when he viewed the Stanley Kubrick film, Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the central plot of which involves a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union carried out by a rogue American general. Ellsberg remarked that he and a colleague had just viewed a “documentary.”


Paul Atwood is the author of War and Empire: the American Way of Life.